Cameroon will host two major soccer tournaments in the next two years: the 2020 African Nations Championship, tournament restricted to African soccer players who play in their national leagues, and the 2021 African Nations Cup.
But the country's national soccer leagues have seen seven years of setback and oversight.
The Central African nation won its fifth African Cup of Nations title in 2017 in Gabon. At this time, you can only show your international selections. The country's soccer league has stagnated due to lack of sponsorship and the constant migration of players to North Africa or Europe.
Women's football is semi-functional and youth soccer is a luxury.
However, the soccer authority of the country, the Football Federation of Cameroon (Fecafoot) has decided to restructure the leagues of older men and women and create a youth league for the first time.
Seidou Mbombo Njoya, president of Fecafoot, tweeted:
We have started a great project to rebuild our football and there is a lot to be done on all fronts. We must stay focused on our goals in order to succeed.@FecafootOfficie @CAF_Online@FIFAcom#Football #Passion
– Seidou Mbombo Njoya (@MbomboSeidou) October 17, 2019
We have started a great project to rebuild our football, and there is much to do on all fronts. We must remain focused on our goals to achieve it.
Suspension of the league leadership, creation of interim committee
At the end of August, Fecafoot suspended the activities of the Professional Football League of Cameroon, an organization that organized the first and second division championships, for repeated violations of its own statutes.
In September, the Cameroon Football Association created an interim body to lead the leagues for two years.
Njoya, president of Fecafoot, told the BBC in September that he wants to attract new sponsors and ensure credibility in football management. Njoya, who has held the presidency since the beginning of 2019, explained:
We had to step in to save local football that is in a desolate state now. Our championship is far from being glamorous and the most glaring example is the poor performance of Cameroonian clubs in continental competitions …
… The league can’t account for state and Fecafoot money handed out to them and the two main sponsors of the domestic championships have left. We feel things can be done better and that’s what we’re trying to change.
We had to intervene to save local football, which is in a devastating state. Our championship is far from glamorous and the clearest example is the poor performance of Cameroonian clubs in continental competitions …
… The league cannot justify the money of the State and Fecafoot that was given to it and the two main sponsors in the national championships are gone. We feel that things can be done better and that is why we are trying to change.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Cameroonian giant Canon Yaoundé dominated the competition of elite African clubs, the Caf Champions League, and won three titles between 1971 and 1980.
Now, the closest the country has reached is the final level, when Coton Sport lost to Al Ahly from Egypt in the final of 2008.
Yannick, a football fan from the city of Buea, southwest of Cameroon, says he enjoyed the country's giants, Canon Yaoundé and Tiko United, when they faced each other in western Cameroon. Yannick, who asked not to give his last name, said he is optimistic that Fecafoot can relive the memories. On October 16 he told Global Voices:
I used to watch Tiko United host Canon here in Tiko (a town in Cameroon’s western coast). People will gather around the stadium to watch entertaining football but we don't have that now because the organization is poor. The move by Fecafoot is good – hopefully it brings football back.
I saw Tiko United receive Canon here in Tiko (city on the west coast of Cameroon). People gathered around the stadium to watch entertainment football, but we don't have that anymore because the organization is lacking. Fecafoot's measure is good – I hope he brings football back.
The federation promised to pay monthly salaries of 18 players from each club, to help teams that cannot meet their financial obligations, which they announced at a press conference in Yaoundé in October.
Improve women's football
Despite having organized the African Women's Soccer Cup in 2016, Cameroon recently restructured its women's league this year, among calls to improve the sport after a shameful World Cup defeat against England in June this year in France.
Fecafoot created a transition committee to reorder and oversee the league for two years.
After June's World Cup meltdown against England, #Cameroon launched a restructured Women's Football League yesterday.
Canon Filles brushed aside Vision Sports 5-2 in the inaugural game in Ydé.
– ekondedaniel (@ ekondedaniel4) October 19, 2019
After the World Cup defeat in June against England, Cameroon launched a restructured Women's Soccer League yesterday.
Canon Filles set aside Vision Sports with 5-2 in the opening game at Yaoundé.
Hopefully the Cameroon Football Federation will expand the platform for women.
“This is a historic day because one of our promises (campaign) was to build the Women's Soccer League and today we have done it. Today, women's football, as you know, is one of the most important events of the century and we want to give it all the attention it deserves, ”Njoya told local media on September 9 when installing the committee.
The women's competition started in October.
Start a youth league leadership
The Under 17 (U-17) team of Cameroon is the champion of Africa, after its victory in the African Cup of Nations U-17 this year in Tanzania, and at the end of October it will participate in the world championship in Brazil at the end of October.
– Fecafoot-Officiel (@FecafootOfficie) October 16, 2019
The new president of the Youth Soccer League, Ligue Gilbert Kadji, highlights the main points of his action plan.
But youth soccer had never been a national priority until Wednesday, October 16, when the federation decided to start a youth team, during the executive committee meeting in the country's capital, Yaoundé.
The league is expected to start at the end of November with the former president of the Swiss club FC Sion, Gilbert Kadji, who was elected president.
“I am proud, but it is a great challenge because youth football is not only to prepare those who will be future professionals… it is also to take full advantage of young Cameroonian people who want to play football. And tomorrow they will be the ones who help the federation, ”he told Kick442.
With the start of the men's and women's senior leagues in October, many want to see Fecafoot's changes. Epie, a former local league fan who asked not to give his last name, says he is now a staunch fan of Manchester United but will follow Cameroon's news closely. He told Global Voices on Friday, October 18:
I don’t (usually) follow local football again because the organization is poor; players don’t play with zeal as we see on our TV screens in Europe. More to that, the organizers are not serious.
I don't (usually) keep track of local football again because the organization is lacking; Players do not play with zeal as we see on television screens in Europe. On top of that, the organizers are not serious.